When I heard what Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum said about Cuba in last nights Florida presidential debate, I felt like I was in a Cold War time warp and that we were about to see flower children, hippies, go-go girls, and CIA LSD experiments once again appear before our eyes.
Gingrich said that he wants the U.S. government to engage in new regime-change operations with what he calls covert operations, those in which the U.S. government keeps its role secret from the American people and the people of the world. You know, sort of like the CIAs invasion at the Bay of Pigs.
Or maybe Gingrich was advocating more CIA state-sponsored terrorism against Cuban businesses, hotels, and enterprises. Or maybe just operations to destroy Cubas economy, much like the CIA did in Chile prior to the U.S.-supported coup that ousted Chiles democratically elected president and installed an unelected military strongman in his place.
Or maybe he was telling us that under a Gingrich administration, the U.S. governments current assassination program would be redirected toward Fidel Castro as a follow-up to the unsuccessful attempts by the CIA and Mafia, working together, to assassinate Castro during the 1960s.
Another fascinating aspect to this is that these three presidential candidates obviously believe that the Cuban people are eagerly waiting for the U.S. State Department, CIA, and Pentagon to show up in Cuba and declare, Were from the U.S. government and were here to help you. At that point, their mindset goes, the Cuban people will supposedly embrace the U.S. government eagerly and enthusiastically.
Is that delusional or what? In fact, correct me if Im wrong but wasnt that the type of delusional thinking that went into the fiasco at the Bay of Pigs? Werent the CIA and every right-wing anti-communist in America convinced that the Cuban people would rally to the cause of the U.S. invaders and join them in their quest to oust Castro from power?
It didnt happen, and the reason it didnt happen is that most Cubans were sick and tired of decades of U.S. control over their island. Thats what Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney just dont get. The Cuban people are not interested in another U.S.-installed regime in their country. Theyre not interested in sacrificing one bit of their hard-earned independence from U.S. control, not even in exchange for millions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid.
What Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney fail to realize in their Cold War la-la land is that while Cubans are undoubtedly disenchanted with their socialist economic system, they nonetheless revere Fidel Castro for finally bringing Cuba independence from U.S. government control.
The irony of all this is that Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney all support many of the socialist programs that Castro has brought to Cuba. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, free public education, income taxation, a managed economy, a regulated economy. All of them form the core of Cubas socialist system, and all of them are enthusiastically embraced by Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney here at home.
Lets not forget the cruel embargo that the U.S. government has enforced against the Cuban people for more than half-a-century, an embargo that Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum wish to continue, no matter how much suffering it has brought and continues to bring to the Cuban people.
In fact, its funny to see Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney professing to be so concerned about the well-being of the Cuban people. The three of them know that the U.S. embargo on Cuba has helped squeeze the lifeblood out of the Cuban people, especially in combination with Cubas cruel socialist economic system.
Has all that suffering caused Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney to call for an end to the embargo? Are you kidding? Despite the fact that more than 50 years of embargo has failed to achieve its goal of regime change in Cuba, they want to continue it indefinitely into the future.
The Republicans who cheered Gingrichs, Santorums, and Romneys bellicose Cold War attitude toward Cuba no doubt failed to recognize that they were cheering infringements on their own economic liberty. After all, dont forget how the embargo against Cuba (and Iran) apply to the American people. The embargo is a federal prohibition on Americans spending their money in the way they choose. If an American travels to Cuba and spends his money there without official permission, U.S. officials will prosecute, jail, and fine him for doing so. How is that reconcilable with such natural, God-given rights as freedom of travel, freedom of association, and freedom of commerce? Indeed, how is it different from the economic controls that communist Castro imposes on his own people?
In response to a hypothetical question about Castros dying, Gingrich responded, I dont think Fidel will meet his maker He will go to another place. Im no theologian but that answer seems to be inconsistent with the Catholic faith to which Gingrich has converted. I thought that Catholicism holds that God, not Gingrich or anyone else, will judge who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell and that every person is capable of being saved, no matter the gravity of his sins prior to death.
But its also curious as to which of Castros sins Gingrich was referring that caused him to conclude that Castro is going to hell. If the sins to which Gingrich was referring involve such things as murder, assassination, torture, indefinite detention, or killing during wars of aggression, Newt might want to reflect on Matthew 7:1-3: Judge not lest ye be judged.